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Submitted by Eduardo Guthartz on

Water Losses: The real cost of poor quality pipes and fittings.

Regarding Actions to Reduce Water Losses and Water Conservation by Use of Long-Life Infrastructure Materials I wish to bring to your attention the progress that has been made in development of long-life, highly reliable piping materials for use in potable water distribution.

HDPE (high density polyethylene) pipes and fittings have been adopted overwhelmingly in the US, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle and Far East by the Natural Gas Distribution Companies since the beginning of the 60's, due to their resistance to corrosion, ground movement and ease of use/installation.

Today, the conservation of water resources is more critical than ever. Water loss continues to be a major challenge for water utilities across the world. Sounds very simple but the cost-effective method to tackle water loss is to install the best quality pipes and fittings. About 70% of water loss sourced in low quality house connections. Reducing NRW can significantly improve the performance of public water utilities.

Cost of poor quality (COPQ) or poor quality costs (PQC), It's easy to jump to the conclusion that better quality products cost more to produce. Investment in good quality fittings is more than offset. Indirect COPQ is difficult to measure because it is a delayed result of time, durability, quality, and financial costs incurred by water authority. These additional costs add up to NRW and therefore do not appear in the company's ledger. Once the costs of losses are known, justifications can be made to launch the efforts that will recoup these costs.

The IOT (The Internet of things) allows water leakage to be sensed and/or controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure. The reality is that high-quality pipes and fittings manufactured according to highest standards and Quality Control will avoid leaks and last longer than a lower price category. A better way to look at purchasing quality pipes and fittings like this is as an investment — an investment in the future, the " Strongbox" for the water distribution system.

Fittings costs are only 4 percent of all water infrastructure project spending. This sentence touches on a bunch of controversial and complex issues related to NRW in just few seconds. However, my conclusion here doesn't argue one way or another on the question of whether water measuring could be run more accurate. Smart Water Companies don't spend money in pipes and fittings; they invest in the best pipes and fittings.

Following the 2007 earthquake in Ica, Peru, the PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe infrastructure for potable water and sewage was destroyed completely. Recently SEDAPAL from Lima, one of the biggest public water utilities in Latin America moved to HDPE (high density polyethylene) for pipeline rehabilitation in thousands of kilometers for Lima city.

According to Natural Gas piping experience for more than 50 years in Europe, the use of a fully welded polyethylene infrastructure is the most cost-effective solution without leaks. Try to imagine what could happen if the gas distribution networks should deal with 45% Non-Revenue Gas delivered. Could this scary scenario happen ? For more than 50 years Gas companies made and still make all the necessary actions to avoid this scenario. The same pipes and fittings used in Gas distribution according to EN 1555 are already in use for water distribution according to EN 12201, due to the very low frequency of failures over an expected lifetime of at least 50 years.

Better sooner than later the relevant decision-makers in this segment will contribute to the efforts to Reduce Water Losses.

According to the World Bank, in developing countries, roughly 45 million cubic meters of water are lost daily with an economic value of over US$3 billion per year. High levels of NRW reflect huge volumes of water being lost through leaks, not being invoiced to customers, or both.

Many drinking water utilities around the world respond to leaks only after they have received a report of water erupting from a street or a complaint from a customer about a damp basement, or other visible sign of leakage. Utilities that employ this type of reactive leakage response most likely have excessive leakage that will never be effectively contained. Most of the leaks sourced in hidden leaks 24/365 due to low quality house connections. Water Main Rehabilitation and Replacement by a fully welded system of polyethylene pipes and fittings as already adopted overwhelmingly by Gas Distribution companies will lead to the desired reduction of water loss.